The construction of the $2.13-billion light-rail project along the Transitway will mean detours for bus riders, but city officials say they don't expect major disruptions.
The challenge in building Ottawa's new light-rail system is that it's being installed, for the most part, on an active and already heavily used bus transit line, from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Road.
But Mayor Jim Watson said he's confident in the plan that city staff worked out with input from Rideau Transit Group, the winning consortium that will be building the line.
"I think you'll be surprised just how little people will notice this massive construction project and just how well thought-out the mobility plan is for the entire construction period," said Watson.
Nicholas to lose 2 lanes to buses
In the western portion of the Transitway, the city will temporarily widen stretches of Scott and Albert streets to add bus-only lanes.
As work is done on the Transitway just east of the Rideau Canal, two of the four lanes on Nicholas Street will be reserved for buses.
And in the east, the province is widening the 417 from Nicholas to the split, with the new lanes reserved for OC Transpo buses. Once the LRT is running, the lanes will be converted to high-occupancy vehicle lanes for cars.
Winning bidder had to include traffic plan
Rideau Transit Group had to include a traffic management plan when submitting their bid and were told they would be penalized in the event of additional lane closures, according to John Jenson, the director of the city's Rail Implementation Office. He said that made a difference in coming up with a good plan.
"We believe that had a considerable effect on creating an excellent construction plan with minimal disruptions, and it's fairly innovative in the industry," said Jensen.
The first disruptions will be felt in February when work begins to widen the Queensway.
Work on the tunnel is not expected to begin until July 2013, and the first work on the actual stations is not slated until July 2015. The project is expected to be completed by 2018.